Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has underscored the exploitation and utilisation of the nation’s energy resources as key to her socioeconomic development.
Osinbajo made this known during his opening remarks at the 7th edition of the ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF) themed “Achieving Sustainable Energy targets in the ECOWAS Region: Moving from Resilience to Transition” organised by the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), West African Investment Forum (WAIF) and the annual International Off-grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition (IOREC) in Abuja.
Osinbajo, represented by the Minister of Power, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu stressed the importance of energy to human development cannot be over-emphasised.
“Its relevance extends socio-economic development to include security and sovereignty, foreign policy as well as international trade. The economic growth of nations is typically correlated to growth in energy consumption.
“The development and use of energy are dynamic and energy policies are, therefore, continuously changing driven by affordability, the efficiency of energy resources, energy security, international cooperation and trade and pressing realities like climate change. Globally, we are committed to limiting the warming of our dear planet by limiting CO2 emissions which largely come from energy consumption. However, this must be achieved alongside rapid development, particularly for African nations.
He pointed out that at the COP26 in Glagow, Scotland, President Muhammadu Buhari made a commitment on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060. The realisation of this goal depends on the implementation of our nation’s Energy Transition Plan (ETP) which was recently launched by this administration.
The vice president added that Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan is a prime example of the needed evolution of policies to deliver both the growth in energy consumption necessary for the development and the climate response required for the preservation of our planet.
“Our Energy Transition Plan,” he said “seeks to tackle the dual crises of energy poverty and climate change and deliver universal energy access (SDG7) by 2030 and net-zero by 2060.
“It is also a bolder articulation of our commitment to sustainability and renewables as earlier proposed in the Electricity Vision 30:30:30, which aims to provide 30GW of electricity by the year 2030, with renewable energy contributing at least 30 per cent to the energy mix. While Nigeria led the charge as the first African country to develop such a detailed energy transition plan, we know the captured ambitions are not unique to us. To remain committed to limiting emissions, energy supply mix must be increased.
“Through our contribution as a continent to global emissions is insignificant, it is clear that we remain committed to limiting emissions even as we develop, for example, by increasing the share of renewable energy in our energy supply mix. Regional sustainable energy policies like the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy (EREP) and the ECOWAS Energy Efficiency Policy (EEEP) are clear indicators of this.
“The recent global events reveal that we have another chance to determine the future of energy development and use within the West African region and I firmly believe this forum presents the opportunity to deepen our cooperation within the region and Africa at large, to speak with one voice for our benefit at a time when energy issues are being renegotiated,” he added.
Highlighting some of the challenges affecting the system, Osinbajo identified lack of access to finance as the biggest challenge for accelerating action on energy access and climate goals in Africa.
Only 2 per cent – about USD60 billion – of the USD2.8 trillion, he said, invested in renewable energy from 2000 to 2020 came to Africa. West Africa received just 7 per cent of that, about USD4 billion.
“To reach our goals, sufficient capital must be made available in the region and we must do our part in creating the enabling environment for these funds.
“For the sake of emphasis, it is relevant to note that Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan (ETP) would require funding of about USD1.9 trillion up to 2060. USD410 billion of this amount is above usual spending and implies that we need to mobilise an additional USD10 billion per annum.
“The success of universal energy access and carbon neutrality is dependent on effectiveness in crowding in these investments. Our government plans to roll out a set of policy measures that would attract financing and investments of up to USD10 billion and create scalability of programmes of over USD30 billion over the coming decades. These policy measures and programmes would be leveraged to catalyse the Nigeria ETP, specifically on renewable power,” he added.
In his remarks, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Touray disclosed that ECRP aims to increase the share of renewable energy in the region’s overall electricity mix to 48 per cent in 2030 and the ECOWAS Energy Efficiency Policy aims to implement measures that free 2000 MW of power generation capacity and in the medium term, more than double the annual improvement in energy efficiency.
Touray, represented by ECOWAS commissioner for infrastructure energy and digitalisation, Sediko Douka said only half of the ECOWAS citizens have access to modern energy services; hence, they are consistently deprived of the full benefits of electricity for socio-economic development. If this is not addressed, he said, it would hinder the region from achieving its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
According to him, the electricity access rate is also currently at 50 per cent, with a current installed capacity at 30 GW, broken down as follows: 77 per cent thermal, 22 per cent hydro and 1 per cent solar/wind. However, there are significant disparities, with the electricity access rate in rural areas currently at only less than 10 per cent. Other challenges are the power generation and transmission deficit, the tariff which is still high, the development of renewable energy, the low energy exchanges rate among the countries (only 9 per cent) and the coverage of the energy demand.
The strategic objective of ECOWAS is to integrate the operation of the community’s national power grids into a unified regional electricity market to ensure a stable, regular and reliable supply of competitively priced electricity to the citizens of the ECOWAS member states in the medium term.
“We plan to achieve this objective by promoting and developing power generation and transmission facilities and equipment and coordinating electricity trade among the ECOWAS member states.
“It is the reason that we launched the regional electricity market in June 2018 and the ECOWAS statutory bodies adopted a master plan for the development of regional power generation and transmission infrastructure 2019 2033 aiming to generate 16000 MW and construct 23000 km interconnection electric lines. It is a portfolio of 75 regional projects amounting to USD37billion. The generation will promote the utilisation of renewable energy and natural gas [which are] very abundant in our region.
“The implementation of this master plan and the previous ones reaches a result where we have presently 13 countries interconnected; the remaining one country will be interconnected by the end of this year. Also, through the support of our traditional technical and financial partners, the WAPP Information and Coordination Centre (ICC) located in Cotonou, Benin, will be operational by the end of this year and will serve as the regional electricity market operator, i.e. a place where stakeholders can sell and buy electricity by next year the reason.
“[About] 30 per cent of the energy generated should use natural gas as we have potential in our region. It is why we established the West African Gas Pipeline Authority in 2003 and our statutory bodies instructed us to carry out a feasibility study for the extension of the gas pipeline. In this vein, the recent signatures of the Nigeria-Morocco and Nigeria-Niger-Algeria gas pipelines projects are welcome,” he added.
In his remarks, Spain’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Juan Ignacio Sell said the forum affords member countries the platform to share ideas and create awareness of the quest to achieve the SDGs in West Africa.
“We are falling short of the target we set for renewable and green energy. Energy poverty and energy security need to be addressed,” he said.
Sell promised that the EU will assist ECOWAS member states in infrastructure and capacity development.